Today: May 22, 2024

University commemorates the life of MLK Jr.

Brianna Wallen- News Editor

Black History Month is celebrated in February to commemorate the accomplishments and challenges faced by African Americans throughout American history. It is a time to reflect on how far Black figures and people have progressed.  

The celebration started off strong, as on Feb. 1, at 11:00 a.m. the Adanti Student Center Ballroom was filled with eager listeners ready to soak up thoughtful insights and celebrate the life and legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  

The “Celebration Brunch” addressed modern-day issues and microaggressions that Black people face.   

Interim President Dwayne Smith handing a university shirt to Jamila Lyiscott at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Brunch in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom on Thursday, Feb 1. Photo: Brianna Wallen

Award-winning community-engaged scholar, nationally renowned speaker, Associate Professor of Social Justice Education, and author of “Black Appetite”, Dr. Jamila Lyiscott was featured as a keynote speaker.  

Lyiscott’s overarching theme was to have hope: not ordinary hope, but critical hope. 

“As we celebrate Dr. King, remember the legacy that you are meant to lead as an individual,” Lyiscott said. “It is now our time to create the time of critical and tangible hope that we aspire to.” 

Lyiscott said that it is important for this new generation to not succumb to any environment. She claimed that she does not believe in code switching and said that individuals should not suppress any factors of who they are to fit in Eurocentric boxes or environments. 

Interim President Dwayne Smith said that he was inspired by her message and hopes that his students follow her advice.   

Smith speaking to attendees at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Brunch in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom on Thursday, Feb. 1. Photo: Brianna Wallen

“I want my students to have more passion for leadership and to be their authentic self as they show up and claim their space and never give up,” Smith said.  

Smith also said that he resonated with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideology. 

“I think oftentimes people think of MLK with “I have a Dream,” but he talks about oppression and shifting priorities of a country to the minority,” Smith said. “His message is very timeless.” 

Despite MLK’s speech being over three decades old, Smith added that his speech is still relevant to modern-day.  

Smith said that he is proud of his role and students.  

“I’m so proud to be president because of the vision that we have to make a difference in the community,” Smith said. “We produce scholars that will make a difference in the world.” 

Along with lead speakers, many students attended the event and were inspired by their wise words. One of these students was communications major Victoria Kirkland, a senior.  

“My takeaway is that the work will never not be done to further rise above oppression,” Kirkland said. “If u want change you have to be a part of said change.” 

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